Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Mosaic in Caesarea

CAESAREA (Reuters) -
The mosaic uncovered in Caesarea by the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

A mosaic of toga-clad men believed to date back to the Roman era, 1,800 years ago, has been unearthed in Israel, archaeologists said on Thursday.

The mosaic was discovered during the excavation of a building from the Byzantine period – some 300 years younger than the mosaic it was on top of – in the coastal city of Caesarea.

“The surprise was actually that we found two beautiful monuments from the glorious days of Caesarea,” Peter Gendelman, co-director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Reuters of the building and mosaic.

Caesarea was a Roman metropolis built in honor of Emperor Augustus Caesar by King Herod, who ruled Yehudah.

The excavated portion of the mosaic, which the antiquities authority said was 10.5 feet by 24 feet in size, depicts three toga-clad men, as well as geometric patterns and an inscription in Greek, which is damaged.

If the mosaic came from a mansion, the figures could have been the owners, or if it was a public building, they may have been the mosaic’s donors or members of the city council, Gendelman said.

The mosaic was of a high artistic standard, with about 12,000 stones per 3 square feet, the antiquities authority said.

Israel is undertaking the largest conservation and reconstruction project in the country in the Caesarea National Park, the antiquities team said.